Egypt: Judicial harassment of Mr. Bahey el-Din Hassan, Director of CIHRS

27/03/2020
Urgent Appeal

EGY 003 / 0320 / OBS 028
Judicial harassment
Egypt
March 27, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment of Mr. Bahey el-Din Hassan, Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS).

According to information received, Mr. Bahey el-Din Hassan recently learned of the three-year prison sentence and 20,000 EGP fine (approximately 1,188 Euros) that were handed down against him in the politically-motivated case No. 5530 of 2019. The sentence was issued in absentia by Cairo Felony Court circuit 30, on September 19, 2019. He was sentenced on charges of “insulting the judicial authority” (Article 184 of the Penal Code), “insulting a public official or a person holding a public representative quality” (Article 185), as well as “deliberately spread news that disturbs public security or is liable to” and “publishing, with ill will, false news that disturbs public peace and causes harm and damage to public interest” (Articles 102 bis and 188).

The charges stemmed from a comment Mr. Bahey el-Din Hassan published on Twitter in March 2018, in which he criticised the Public Prosecution’s abandonment of its role in defending citizens, instead siding with the State and its security apparatus against citizens [1]. Following an anonymous complaint, the Public Prosecution opened an inquiry that lasted over 15 months; and the case was referred to trial in June 2019.

The Observatory notes that Mr. Bahey el-Din Hassan’s sentence is in violation of Article 71 of Egypt’s Constitution, which prohibits prison sentences for publication crimes. Mr. Hassan cannot appeal the ruling, as he is in exile and cannot return to Egypt to attend court hearings: he would face arrest upon arrival due to this case and possibly other cases that he has no knowledge of, as well as clear risks on his life due to repeated media incitement to kill him [2].

The Observatory condemns the judicial harassment of Mr. Bahey el-Din Hassan, which seems to be only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities and his exercise of freedom of expression.

The Observatory calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Bahey el-Din Hassan and all the Egyptian human rights defenders.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Bahey el-Din Hassan and all Egyptian human rights defenders, and ensure they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals;

ii. Carry out a transparent, impartial, immediate and thorough investigation into the above-mentioned allegations of repeated incitement to kill Mr. Hassan in government-controlled media, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, sanction them as provided by the law and provide Mr. Hassan with effective remedies;

iii. Guarantee the physical and psychological well-being of all human rights defenders in Egypt in all circumstances;

iv. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with Articles 1, and 12.2;

v. Ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in all circumstances, in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments to which Egypt is a State party.

Addresses:

● President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Fax: +202 2391 1441. Email: p.spokesman@op.gov.eg, Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
● Prime Minister, Mr. Mustafa Kemal Madbouly Mohamed. Email: pm@cabinet.gov.eg
● Minister of the Interior, Mr. Mahmoud Tawfik, Email: center@iscmi.gov.eg
● Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim, Fax: +202 2795 8103
● Public Prosecutor, Counsellor Nabeel Sadek, Fax: +202 2577 4716
● Head of the Egyptian parliament’s Human Rights Committee, Mr. Alaa Abed, Email: humanrightscomplaints@parliament.gov.eg
● Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Council for Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497 / 25747670. Email: nchr@nchr.org.eg
● H.E. Mr. Alaa Youssef, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: mission.egypt@bluewin.ch
● Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 675.58.88; Email: embassy.egypt@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Egypt in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, March 27, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
● E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
● Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
● Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

[1]“The job of the public prosecutor in Egypt is no longer to stop violations by the Interior Ministry; his role is now to provide legal and judicial cover for such crimes. He has abandoned his role as a public prosecutor to protect society to become a defender of the systematic, daily assault on it.” The tweet referred to the Prosecution’s conduct toward writer Alaa al-Aswany whose fundamental rights were violated as he was detained and subjected to an illegal search at Cairo international airport in March 2018, and an Albert Camus novel in his possession was confiscated. As a human rights defender, Mr. Hassan was speaking out in solidarity with Mr. Al-Aswany.
[2]Two such incidents occurred in 2017 and 2018 for instance, when government-aligned TV show hosts (one of whom was a parliamentarian in the pro-Sisi bloc) called for Mr. Hassan to be eliminated. See “ European States and US must take measures to protect Egyptian human rights defenders, both home and abroad” (EuroMed Rights, 2018).

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